Top News

Joey MacDonald reflects on time in NHL, Schwenninger Wild Wings

Former NHL goalie Joey MacDonald played some ball hockey on Saturday in Pictou. In front is Aaron MacInnis, while in back from left are Luke MacDonald, Camden MacDonald, Zachary MacInnis and Dominic Gibbons. KEVIN ADSHADE/THE NEWS
Former NHL goalie Joey MacDonald played some ball hockey on Saturday in Pictou. In front is Aaron MacInnis, while in back from left are Luke MacDonald, Camden MacDonald, Zachary MacInnis and Dominic Gibbons. KEVIN ADSHADE/THE NEWS

PICTOU – Joey MacDonald was recalling his first NHL game, when the Detroit Red Wings brought him up from the minors to back up goaltender Curtis Joseph.

When he looked around him as he sat at the end of the bench, the names on the backs of those red-and-white sweaters – Federov, Hull, Robitaille, Chelios, Lidstrom and Yzerman – represented a dazzling group of names, a modern day Murderer’s Row, Detroit style.

“I remember looking down the bench and seeing those guys and going, ‘what am I doing here?’” he said with a smile on Saturday outside Hector Arena in Pictou, where he would soon join a group of youngsters for some indoor ball hockey.

In 133 NHL games with Detroit, Boston, Toronto, Calgary and the New York Islanders, MacDonald’s won-lost record was 44-61-55, with two shutouts. He looks back most fondly at his time in the Motor City, where he spent nine seasons with the Red Wings organization (stints of six and three years).

“Every NHL team I played for treated me good, but there’s no team like Detroit. I spent close to nine seasons there (two different stints) and they treated me really well.”

Now 36, MacDonald went undrafted out of junior but hooked up with the Red Wings, spending much of his time in that organization with their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

MacDonald will return to Germany in late July to prepare for his second year with the Schwenninger Wild Wings.

“The American Hockey League – it’s kind of equal to that,” he said, describing the level of play in the German league. “You get a lot of older players, ex-NHL guys, but it’s great.

“We play two games a week, practice every day; usually, we bus on road trips, except for Berlin and Hamburg. We don't usually fly – everything else is four or five hour bus rides.”

Schwenninger’s home rink seats around 6,000 fans, and they usually jam-pack it every night, he said, adding that he’s looking forward to an outdoor game next season.

 “They’re expecting close to 70,000. It’s gonna be in a big soccer stadium and it should be fun.”

When he got a chance to play overseas, he decided to go over and “try it out for one year.”

“They asked me to re-sign in November so I ended up re-signing with them. I’m still healthy and still having fun; that’s the main thing.”

The team plays games on Fridays and Sundays with very rare midweek games.

 “You’re only playing two games a week. It’s not three and four games a week, and travelling all over,” he said.

Having a positive attitude has helped him a lot.

 “You keep battling and keep working and things work out for the best.”

When he looked around him as he sat at the end of the bench, the names on the backs of those red-and-white sweaters – Federov, Hull, Robitaille, Chelios, Lidstrom and Yzerman – represented a dazzling group of names, a modern day Murderer’s Row, Detroit style.

“I remember looking down the bench and seeing those guys and going, ‘what am I doing here?’” he said with a smile on Saturday outside Hector Arena in Pictou, where he would soon join a group of youngsters for some indoor ball hockey.

In 133 NHL games with Detroit, Boston, Toronto, Calgary and the New York Islanders, MacDonald’s won-lost record was 44-61-55, with two shutouts. He looks back most fondly at his time in the Motor City, where he spent nine seasons with the Red Wings organization (stints of six and three years).

“Every NHL team I played for treated me good, but there’s no team like Detroit. I spent close to nine seasons there (two different stints) and they treated me really well.”

Now 36, MacDonald went undrafted out of junior but hooked up with the Red Wings, spending much of his time in that organization with their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

MacDonald will return to Germany in late July to prepare for his second year with the Schwenninger Wild Wings.

“The American Hockey League – it’s kind of equal to that,” he said, describing the level of play in the German league. “You get a lot of older players, ex-NHL guys, but it’s great.

“We play two games a week, practice every day; usually, we bus on road trips, except for Berlin and Hamburg. We don't usually fly – everything else is four or five hour bus rides.”

Schwenninger’s home rink seats around 6,000 fans, and they usually jam-pack it every night, he said, adding that he’s looking forward to an outdoor game next season.

 “They’re expecting close to 70,000. It’s gonna be in a big soccer stadium and it should be fun.”

When he got a chance to play overseas, he decided to go over and “try it out for one year.”

“They asked me to re-sign in November so I ended up re-signing with them. I’m still healthy and still having fun; that’s the main thing.”

The team plays games on Fridays and Sundays with very rare midweek games.

 “You’re only playing two games a week. It’s not three and four games a week, and travelling all over,” he said.

Having a positive attitude has helped him a lot.

 “You keep battling and keep working and things work out for the best.”

Recent Stories